A few years ago, I attended a lecture at which the lecturer related a story of a director of a big company who, in spite of receiving quite good salary, collected on a monthly basis, 10% from the salaries of lowly-paid workers in the company.
One day, while the director was using the loo, one of the cleaners from whom the director collected 10% every month was around the toilet area and started cursing the director to the effect that he would use the money on some unnamed calamity that would befall his family. The director upon hearing the curse was so scared that he refused to collect the usual 10% from the woman’s salary that month and in fact, every other month that followed.
The director never really got to know whether at the time of issuing the curse upon him and his family, the cleaner was aware that he was in the toilet and could hear her.
Very sadly, what this director was doing, collecting part of money meant for people who had little, to add to the plenty that he already had, has become extremely common place in our country today. From bank directors who outsource jobs from their banks to their private entities, thereby making huge profits from the outsourced jobs, to other company directors who deduct portions of salaries of junior workers under the guise of helping those workers to save (Save As You Earn [S.A.Y.E.] and later refuse to pay these hapless workers their very hard earned money and sweat when these people become entitled to the money purportedly saved for them, to the average Nigerian politician and public office holder who, in spite of already appropriating obscenely high amount of salaries and allowances to themselves, still divert the little money meant for developmental projects and the likes to themselves and their cronies. It is at once a very sad and infuriating story.
The pictures I saw in the newspapers on Friday the 24th of June 2016 of the starving Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and their children are truly heartbreaking. There are also reports of death of several of these IDPs due to starvation and probably some unattended-to diseases. Some of the reports on the killing and starvation of the IDPs put daily deaths at an average of 30. Others reported that over 1200 IDPs across the camps in Borno State, have so far been killed by officials who feel the extra monies they would get from the re-bagging of rice donated to these IDPs, the diversion of medicines, toiletries, beddings and other relief materials is worth the starvation and death of so many people.
The people who divert all the food, medicines and other materials are of course, people who already have more than enough to eat, drink and wear. But like the director mentioned above, what they have just will never be enough for them. To drive bigger cars, and live even larger than they already do, they probably feel it to be their duty to finish off the job that the evil boko haram started and did not finish.
It was reported that Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno directed the police and State Security Service officials to go after the officials responsible for the deaths and starvation of the IDPs. The most tragic thing about this would however be that in spite of the governor’s reported directive, no one is likely to be sanctioned for the murderous acts of the officials in charge of the camps. All the greedy murderers will most likely get away with killing the hapless IDPs. Like almost every crime committed by the Nigerian elites and public officials, these people will get away with their greed-fueled killings of the IDPs.
Even more tragic is the fact that we, as a people seem to have lost all sense of outrage. The numbers of death and killings by boko haram, by Fulani herdsmen or people masquerading as Fulani herdsmen, by deliberate acts or omission to act of people who swore to uphold the provisions of the Constitution and serve the country and its people are just that to us; numbers. We seem to have lost the capacity to connect the numbers to our fellow humans, to know that the number of dead reported in the various electronic and print media represent people who were actually breathing and perhaps had dreams like some of us still living but whose dreams and lives have been brutally killed by people who just have to drive bigger vehicles, wear the most expensive designer clothes, shoes, watches etc.
With no punishment for their crimes, and deafening silence/complacency from the rest of us, these kinds of criminal and murderous acts will continue and even increase. Truly tragic…